Updated 4:08 a.m. ET Monday
A string of powerful tornadoes drilled through southeast Alabama on Sunday, killing several people in a path of severe destruction.
At least 23 people were killed in the storm, Lee County Sheriff Jay Jones told media outlets Sunday. Jones told The Associated Press late Sunday evening that children are among the dead, and that it is possible that the death toll could continue to rise.
Sheriff Jones told local CBS station WRBL-TV that the damage in his community trailed several miles long and about 1/4 of a mile wide.
Some people who have been transported to the hospital have sustained “very serious injuries,” he added.
Officials with the county’s Emergency Management Agency say they are in “search and rescue mode,” reports Miranda Fulmore of Birmingham member station WBHM.
The National Weather Service says, according to Fulmore, that crews from Jefferson County will head to Lee County early Monday to survey the damage. John De Block, a warning coordination meteorologist with NWS Birmingham, tells Fulmore that the storm’s EF3 strength level can bring wind speeds of up to 165 miles per hour.
NWS also confirmed to Fulmore that, in addition to two tornadoes in Lee County, tornadoes hit Russell, Macon and Barbour Counties.
Earlier Sunday, the service had issued a series of tornado warnings extending about 100 miles to the east, from Phenix City, Ala., to Macon, Ga.
Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey said on Twitter that she would extend the current state of emergency to free up resources for areas impacted by Sunday’s severe weather.
“Our hearts go out to those who lost their lives in the storms that hit Lee County today,” Gov. Ivey tweeted. “Praying for their families & everyone whose homes or businesses were affected.”
On Sunday night, President Trump also tweeted to Alabama residents, heeding safety in the severe conditions. “To the great people of Alabama and surrounding areas: Please be careful and safe. Tornadoes and storms were truly violent and more could be coming,” Trump wrote. “To the families and friends of the victims, and to the injured, God bless you all!”